Organizing Photo Files

The last few weeks I've been busy completely restructuring my digital photo files.

My neat and organized previous system had me paralyzed. I used the standard organize by date system. I had over seven years organized that way. Each year had a master file. Within each year I had a file for every month and within each month I had a file for the days.


I was paralyzed because I was unable to easily get to individual photos of my kids, my nine grandchildren, my travels...in the mass of the whole. It was just too overwhelming. Five years, 2008-2012, contained approximately 80,000 photos.

If I wanted to do a collage of the grandkids I had to scan through dated file after dated file. I did use tags and collections (I use Lightroom 4), but it wasn't working for me. I wasn't doing the printing that I envisioned or desired.

THEN I read an article in the first issue of Lightroom Magazine by Kelby Media Group entitled: Get Organized: The Library Module by Matt Kloskowski on my iPad. It is a free app and this first issue is also free.
I almost skipped it. I was organized, I thought. I'd spent hours through the years searching and reading photo file organization articles and they all said the same thing: organize by date. So when I saw the section, "DON'T ORGANIZE BY DATE," I had to read it.

Matt Kloskowski acknowledged that, "This is blasphemous to some people." Which is so true. I read it then ignored it. But the article kept resurfacing in my mind. It had stirred me up and caused me to begin to rethink my system. I needed to change something in order to get printing.

So last week after days of thought, discussion and planning, I began redoing my 2012 photo file structure. I've gone with topics that are key to me. Most have subdivisions. Here's an example of what it looks like now:
After a week using the new structure I am thrilled with the change. I can EASILY find what I'm looking for. It is fun to browse through a file and once again discover some old treasures. My printer has been on and printing all week. Progress at last! 

How do you have your photo files organized? I've love to hear what works for you and why.